Saturday 19 December 2015

Morelladon beltrani: A Styracosternan Iguanodontid from the Early Cretaceous of Spain.

Hadrosaurs, or Duck Billed Dinosaurs, were dominant herbivores in many ecosystems across the Northern Hemisphere in the Late Cretaceous, but the wider group of Iguandodontids from which they arose, the Styracosternans, first appeared in the Late Jurassic and were themselves important components of many faunas, particularly in Europe.

In a paper published in the journal PLoS One on 16 December 2015, José Miguel Gasulla of the Unidad de Paleontología at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Fernando Escaso, Iván Narváez and Francisco Ortega of the Grupo de Biología Evolutiva at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia and José Luis Sanz, also of the Unidad de Paleontología at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, describe a new species of Styracosternan Iguanodontid from the Early Cretaceous Arcillas de Morella Formation at Mas de la Parreta Quarry in Morella in Castellón Province, Spain.

The new species is named Morelladon beltrani, where 'Morelladon' means 'Morella-tooth' and 'beltrani' honours Víctor Beltrán for 'his involvement and collaboration in the localization of the different fossil sites at the Mas de la Parreta Quarry'. The species is described from a single specimen, comprising fourteen teeth, all but one being to worn to be of any value to the study, plus six almost complete dorsal vertebrae, a dorsal centrum, several fragments of dorsals neural spines, two dorsal ribs fragments, a nearly complete sacrum, two haemal arches, an ilia, an incomplete pubes and ischia, and the right tibia.

Dorsal vertebrae series of Morelladon beltrani in left lateral (A) view. Interpretive drawing of in left lateral (B) view. Abbreviations: ns, neural spine; poz, postzygapophysis; pre, prezygapophysis; rec, vertical recess; tp, transverse process. Gasulla et al. (2015).

The specimen is not sufficiently complete for a full reconstruction, but appears to have been a medium sized Iguanodontid. The neural spines (spines on the tops of the vertebrae) of Morelladon beltrani are greatly extended and flattened, leading Gasulla et al. to conclude that it may have supported a sail or similar structure on its back.

See also... bergei: A new species of Brachylophosaurin Hadrosaur from the Late Cretaceous of northern Montana. Hadrosaurs were large, herbivorous Ornithischian Dinosaurs, commonly referred to as... kuukpikensis: A new species of Hadrosaurid Dinosaur from the End Cretaceous of Alaska.                                  The Prince Creek Formation of Northern Alaska is noted for the... new species of Rhabdodontid Dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Hungary.         The Rhabdodontids are a group of Iguanadontid Ornithischian Dinosaurs known only from the Late Cretaceous of southern Europe. To date three genera have been described; the first being Rhabdodon from France and Spain, which has given its name to...
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